“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Netherlands expels top Eritrean diplomat over ‘diaspora tax’

DutchNews, January 18, 2018


The Netherlands has told Eritrea that its highest diplomatic representative in the Netherlands must leave the country. 

Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, the chargé d’affaires in The Hague is being expelled because of the country’s pressure on Eritreans in the Netherlands to pay a ‘diaspora tax’. 

Foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra told parliament that the move is a ‘severe diplomatic signal’ to Eritrea. Eritrea has a diplomatic mission in the Netherlands but no embassy. 

Despite talks with the ambassador in Brussels, no action has been taken to stamp out the payments and the Netherlands has now decided to declare the chargé d’affaires persona non grata

Eritrea has imposed the 2% tax on its nationals in other countries since 1994. However, research by the Dutch government last September, which focused on the tax in seven European countries, found problems with both the legal basis and the way the tax is collected. 

In particular, tax collection is seen as mandatory by many Eritreans, and non-compliance can lead to the denial of consular services or the punishment of family members in Eritrea, the report said. 

The Dutch government said at the time the ways in which the tax is collected are ‘unacceptable’. 

Some 20,000 Eritrean nationals live in the Netherlands.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Protests mark Tunisia uprising anniversary

Yahoo – AFP, Kaouther Larbi and Ines Bel Aiba, January 14, 2018

Protesters shout anti-government slogans outside the Tunisian General Labour Union
headquarters on the seventh anniversary of the 2011 uprising (AFP Photo/Anis MILI)

Tunis (AFP) - Tunisians on Sunday marked seven years since the uprising that launched the Arab Spring, with fresh protests and some people expressing pride but others anger over persistent economic problems.

The North African country is seen as having had a relatively smooth democratic transition since the January 14, 2011 toppling of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

But seven years later, anger has risen over new austerity measures after a year of rising prices, with protesters again chanting the 2011 slogans of "Work, Freedom, Dignity".

On Sunday, several hundred people took part in rallies in the capital Tunis, responding to calls to demonstrate from a powerful labour union and several political parties.

Security was tight as protesters poured through checkpoints into Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the epicentre of the 2011 demonstrations, but no incidents were reported.

Demonstrators chanted against "poverty and hunger" as they marched up the avenue, accusing "thieves" of having stolen the country.

Outside the offices of the powerful UGTT trade union, demonstrator Foued el-Arbi waved an empty basket marked "2018".

Tunisians wave their national flag and the flag of the Ennahda Islamist party as
 they gather on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis on January 14, 2018 to mark the 
seventh anniversary of the uprising that launched the Arab Spring (AFP Photo/
FETHI BELAID)

"This empty basket sums up our situation seven years after the revolution," said the philosophy professor.

But others expressed their pride over the uprising that unseated Ben Ali.

The revolution "is the best thing that could have happened, despite the hardships... As long as there are people (who believe), there is hope," said Mohamed Wajdi.

A wave of peaceful protests and night-time unrest hit cities and towns across the country over the past week, after hikes in value-added tax and social security contributions introduced in early January.

The interior ministry says it has arrested more than 800 people suspected of taking part in violence, theft and looting since the unrest began.

Protesters' demands have included a review of the 2018 austerity budget and more efficient measures to fight enduring corruption.

'Fall of the budget'

More than 1,000 people took part in Sunday's protest outside the UGTT offices. "The people want the fall of the 2018 budget," some chanted, echoing 2011 calls for the fall of the regime.

Unemployment figures and inflation rate in Tunisia. 
Political parties and a union called for fresh protests against 
austerity after a week of unrest. (AFP Photo/Vincent LEFAI)

Hundreds more gathered after Ennahdha, an Islamist party that is part of the ruling coalition, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed's Popular Front party also called for demonstrations.

President Beji Caid Essebsi marked the anniversary by attending the opening of a youth centre in the working-class Tunis suburb of Ettadhamen, which saw clashes between young protesters and police this week.

"This year we will start to take care of the young," he said. "The revolution for freedom and dignity... was in effect led by the young."

Several local residents turned out to air their frustration.

"He says he will help us, and then he goes back to his palace," said Mouna, a high school student.

Tunisia's 2011 revolt was sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit seller in desperation at police harassment and unemployment.

On January 14, 2011, Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, inspiring similar revolts across the region in what became known as the Arab Spring.

Tunisian workers hold up a basket with text reading in Arabic: "the basket is empty" 
while shouting slogans against the government in front of the Tunisian General 
Labour Union (UGTT) headquarters in Tunis (AFP Photo/Anis MILI)

Tunisia has been praised for its steps towards democracy in the years since, compared to countries now wracked by war such as Syria or Yemen.

A new constitution was adopted and legislative and presidential polls held in 2014.

But authorities have struggled to revitalise Tunisia's economy, including after deadly jihadist attacks in 2015 dealt a major blow to the key tourism sector.

Seven years on, youth unemployment is more than 35 percent, according to the International Labour Organization, while inflation was more than six percent at the end of last year.

On Saturday, Essebsi announced an increase in aid to the needy and improved health care as part of social reforms.

The action plan, costing more than 70 million dinars ($28.5 million), will benefit more than 120,000 Tunisians, according to the authorities.

Tunisia has secured a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.9-billion) IMF loan in return for a reduction in its budget deficit and financial reforms.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Egypt Copts hold Christmas mass under tight security

Yahoo – AFP, January 6, 2018

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks near Coptic Pope Tawadros II (L)
during a Christmas Eve mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Cairo on
January 6, 2018 (AFP Photo/KHALED DESOUKI)

Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Egypt) (AFP) - Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians held a Christmas Eve mass on Saturday at a massive new cathedral east of Cairo amid tight security after a year of deadly jihadist attacks on the community.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave a short speech before the liturgy, which was led by Pope Tawadros II, wishing the Christians a merry Christmas and telling them that the country would prevail over the jihadists.

"You are our family, you are from us, we are one and no one will divide us," he said to ululations and chants from some of the congregants and visitors.

Police had set up barricades outside the cathedral in a new administrative capital Egypt is building east of Cairo.

The cathedral, Sisi said, was a "message to the world, a message of peace and a message of love".

Police had tightened security around the country's churches ahead of services following a spate of attacks that began in 2016.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in the violence, including a shooting at a church south of Cairo just last week claimed by the Islamic State group.

Since the military ousted divisive Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, security forces have sought to quell attacks led by the Egypt branch of IS which has increasingly targeted Christians.

While the jihadists have also taken aim at other civilians, including more than 300 Muslim worshippers massacred at a mosque last November, they have focused on the ancient Coptic community.

In December 2016, an IS suicide bomber killed almost 30 worshippers at a church in Cairo located in the Saint Mark's Cathedral complex, the seat of the Coptic papacy.

In the Sinai Peninsula, where IS is based, hundreds of Christians were forced to flee in January and December after a wave of assassinations.

IS suicide bombers killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April and shot dead almost 30 Christians a month later as they headed to a monastery.

The year ended with an IS jihadist killing nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb.

Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 93 million people, have long complained of discrimination and intermittent sectarian attacks.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Ex-footballer Weah vows 'better life' after Liberia presidential win

Yahoo – AFP, Philippe SIUBERSKI, December 30, 2017

Supporters of George Weah celebrate after final results in Liberia's presidential
election confirmed his as winner (AFP Photo/SEYLLOU)

Monrovia (AFP) - Liberia's president-elect George Weah vowed Saturday to "improve people's lives" after the former star footballer secured a stunning run-off victory in the country's first democratic transfer of power in decades.

Idolised in Liberia as "Mister George", Weah is to be sworn in on January 22, replacing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2006 took the helm of the West African country first founded for freed US slaves.

The electoral board confirmed Weah's run-off victory on Friday evening, as his rival, Vice President Joseph Boakai, conceded defeat.

In his first public comments since his victory, Weah told journalists in Monrovia he aimed to "improve the lives" of Liberians.

"I declare publicly today that transforming the lives of all Liberians is a singular mission," he said.

A victory speech was however postponed after crowds of energetic supporters gathered around a podium for Weah's address grew too boisterous, an AFP correspondent said.

Weah, 51, who starred in top-flight football at Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan in the 1990s and briefly at Chelsea and Manchester City before entering politics in 2002, won 61.5 percent of the ballot, taking 14 of Liberia's 15 counties.

Boakai said he had called Weah to congratulate him and appealed for unity, saying: "My love for the country is far (more) profound than my desire for the presidency."

The White House called the vote "a major milestone for Liberia's democracy" while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres applauded "all Liberians for the successful completion of the elections process, which was conducted in a peaceful environment".

Former international football star and Liberia's president-elect George Weah told
 reporters he would aim to 'build on the gains' of his predecessor Ellen Johnson 
Sirleaf (AFP Photo/Zoom DOSSO)

'Don't forget your roots'

The tumultuous events of the past 70 years in Liberia, where an estimated 250,000 people died during back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003, have prevented a democratic handover from taking place since 1944.

Sirleaf's predecessor Charles Taylor fled the country in 2003, hoping to avoid prosecution for funding rebel groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Two presidents who served prior to Taylor were assassinated.

The Sirleaf administration guided the nation out of the ruins of war and through the horrors of the 2014-16 Ebola crisis, but is accused of failing to combat poverty and corruption.

Weah said he would aim to "build on the institutional gains made under Madame Sirleaf".

His former club Paris Saint-Germain tweeted its congratulations to the "world football legend on the latest chapter of his brilliant career!!!" while former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure and Marseille's former Cameroon midfielder Stephane Mbia also sent their best wishes.

Weah, who grew up in grinding poverty, is already facing pressure to improve the lives of millions of Liberians.

"I think the Liberian people will expect... Weah's presidency to (have a) pro-poor, pro-growth policy that will put the people at the centre of national development," said political analyst Vita Ishmael Tue.

Profile of George Weah who won the Liberian election (AFP Photo/
Paul DEFOSSEUX)

He added that he expected Weah's presidency to see power "given to the people; the provision of education, youth training for disadvantaged and vulnerable youths that are on the streets and who see themselves in him".

Clinton Taryor from Weah's CDC party urged the new leader: "Mr. President, don't forget your roots. We are not behind you because you're handsome or because you are a star.... Some of us are behind you because we know that you walked in our shoes."

Weah, the only African ever to have won both FIFA's World Player of the Year and the coveted Ballon D'Or, missed out on the presidency in a 2005 bid.

His latest campaign was not without controversy, however.

He has drawn some criticism for picking Jewel Howard-Taylor, the powerful ex-wife of former warlord and president Charles Taylor, as his vice-president. Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence in a British jail for war crimes.

Weah also had the backing of a notorious former warlord Prince Johnson, who sipped a beer as his men tortured former president Samuel Kanyon Doe to death.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Turning e-waste into art at Ghana's toxic dump

Yahoo – AFP, Stacey KNOTT, 27 December 2017

A young man carries an old refrigerator at Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Accra

Joseph Awuah-Darko sits on a stool at one of the world's largest electronic waste dumps, watching polystyrene and insulation cables burn on the blackened ground.

"It's survival and dystopia," says the 21-year-old British-born Ghanaian, surveying the stretch of wasteland around him as dense plumes of acrid smoke rise into the air.

Awuah-Darko and his university friends have ambitious plans for the sprawling Agbogbloshie dumping ground in Ghana's capital, Accra.

In January this year, he co-founded the non-profit Agbogblo.Shine Initiative, which encourages people working at the dump to turn waste into high-end furniture.

The dump workers typically risk exposure to harmful fumes by burning obsolete and unwanted appliances such as mobile phones, computers, televisions and plastics that are brought to Ghana from around the world.

After burning, they salvage and resell copper and other metals from these leftovers of modern consumer culture.

The dump and scrapyard sit next to the heavily polluted Odaw River in the slum-like area, home to an estimated 40,000 people.

The United Nations has said that salvaging materials for recycling provides income for more than 64 million people in the developing world.

Ghana is said to have the largest informal recycling industry in Africa and imports some 40,000 tonnes of this e-waste annually.

Ghanaian artist Joseph Awuah-Darko and his university friends have ambitious 
plans for the sprawling Agbogbloshie dumping ground, encouraging people working
at the dump to turn waste into high-end furniture

'We are suffering here'

When Awuah-Darko first saw the piles of circuit boards, wires and plastics at Agbogbloshie he decided he wanted to use his artistic talent as a force for change.

So he set up the Agbogblo.Shine project with Cynthia Muhonja, a fellow student from Ashesi University, about an hour's drive from Accra.

They repurpose the electronic scraps, "upcycling" them into furniture, and offer training for the young men who work at the dump to create the pieces.

The students straddle two worlds -- a privileged life on the lush campus of a private university in a forested area, and the harsh reality of life for some of Ghana's poorest people.

Mohamed Abdul Rahim, who is in charge of about 20 young men, has been working at Agbogbloshie since 2008.

The 25-year-old from the north of Ghana works 12-hour days, six days a week. On average the workers make only about 20 cedi each ($4.50, 3.75 euros) a day.

He knows the work is bad for his health but doesn't see any other option. However he is optimistic that Awuah-Darko's initiative will help.

Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Accra sits next to the heavily polluted Odaw River 
in a slum-like area that is home to an estimated 40,000 people

"We are suffering here because the heat is there, the smoke, too, it disturbs us. If we see good work we will go join it and leave this," he says.

The toxic fumes hurt his lungs, while his hips and waist ache from carrying heavy objects to burn. The money he earns supports his mother, wife and three children.

The ground he works on is black, muddy and littered with plastic bags, cables, bottles and broken shoes alongside smashed television sets and computer monitors.

Workers use plastics and polystyrene as fuel to melt down components to extract the copper.

Grandfather clock

Awuah-Darko recognises that the people of Agbogbloshie "are basically in pursuit of what we all want, which is a better life".

"Unfortunately, the side effects or the by-product of this is the detriment of their health," he said.

He hopes that his initiative will not only improve their lives but also the planet, as waste from the site is given another life.

When Ghanaian artist Joseph Awuah-Darko first saw the piles of circuit boards, 
wires and plastics at Agbogbloshie he decided he wanted to use his artistic talent 
as a force for change

Awuah-Darko's first upcycled work is a grandfather clock, made from a galvanised car axle, aluminium and part of a discarded wall clock.

Two high-end hotels in Accra are currently vying to buy the unusual timepiece, he said, and with such interest he has plans to create more and expand operations.

Awuah-Darko sees a future where around 100 people from Agbogbloshie can leave their harmful work to build furniture.

He also wants to exhibit the creations at major galleries around the world and sell them at auction houses.

That would be a world away for someone like Mohammed Sofo, a thin 26-year-old with small tattoos on his face.

But Sofo wants to live in a world where he does not have to burn waste to survive.

"Some people think we are bad because they think we are mad persons," he said.

"If we get money no one will look at us like that. Some day will come when no one will be working here."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Lonely Cape Verde rethinks West African isolation

The Citizen – AFP, Maria da Luz NEVES with Selim SAHEB ETTABA in Dakar

Cape Verde is an archipelago which lies about 500km (300 miles) off the coast
of Senegal and a former Portuguese colony which is home to half a million people

It was supposed to be tiny Cape Verde’s moment to shine: a chance for the Atlantic island nation to take up the rotating presidency of the commission of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

But the archipelago has found itself once again out of step with its mainland cousins, who decided to hand the responsibility to Ivory Coast at a meeting in Nigeria last weekend.

Cape Verde is different. A pillar of democracy, stability and human rights, it is cited near the top of the yearly Ibrahim Index, which measures and monitors governance performance in African countries, this time coming fourth out of 54 nations.

Its nine inhabited islands have weathered different cultural currents for hundreds of years which is shown in its unique musical traditions and racial diversity: 71 percent of its people identify as mixed race, according to official figures.

In the generally culturally conservative West African region, Cape Verde has a vibrant LGBT community. The Afrobarometer polling company found in 2016 it ranked “most tolerant” of all African nations in terms of attitudes to homosexuality.

But its impact is barely felt a hop and a skip across the Atlantic, where its population of 500,000 is dwarfed by giants such as Nigeria (population some 190 million).

“In a world dominated by quantity, Cape Verde feels that it barely registers,” Cape Verdean diplomat Corsino Tolentino told AFP of the former Portuguese colony.

Mutual ignorance

Chronically poor transport links between Cape Verde and the rest of
Africa have not helped to foster ties, says former president Pedro Pires

Whispers of unmet financial contributions began surfacing after the decision to exclude Cape Verde from heading up the Commission but President Jorge Carlos Fonseca took to public broadcaster TCV to denounce “political subterfuge” which he said broke ECOWAS rules.

Created in 1975, ECOWAS is seeking greater long-term economic integration for its 330 million citizens, notably with the longstanding aim of a single currency.

But chronically poor transport links with the rest of Africa have not helped to foster greater understanding, said former president Pedro Pires, who won the Ibrahim Prize for African leadership in 2011.

“Regarding our relationship with ECOWAS, one has to look at everything that makes it complicated,” he said in an interview with AFP. “How do you develop economic links if you don’t have any sea transport?”

In fact, Cape Verde has vastly better flight connections to former colonial master Portugal and fellow former colony Brazil than with West Africa.

Pay more attention

President Fonseca said this weakness was compounded by mutual ignorance, with Cape Verde often unfamiliar with decision-making processes in the bloc.

“Cape Verdians don’t really know how the structure and projects of ECOWAS work. It’s not an accident that there aren’t many of us working in these bodies. And the other countries don’t know what Cape Verde is really like,” he explained.

Cape Verde’s nine inhabited islands have weathered different cultural
currents for hundreds of years, as shown its unique musical traditions

Of the more than 50 protocols and conventions, Cape Verde has signed less than half — the lowest total of all member states.

Former prime minister Jose Maria Neves has defended the country’s ECOWAS record, saying its officials have been appointed to senior posts, even if he admits more is left to be done.

“I don’t think ECOWAS ignores Cape Verde, but the organisation needs to pay more attention to the peculiarities of the archipelago,” he told AFP.

Nelson Magbagbeola, Secretary-General of the ECOWAS parliament, said naming an ambassador to the body and putting into practice the rules of free movement of people and goods would go a long way towards better integration.

The country’s labour market is already saturated, however, making free movement of migrants from the rest of West Africa a difficult proposition, according to the government.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Egypt's Coptic Pope rejects Pence meeting over Jerusalem

Yahoo – AFP, December 9, 2017

Egypt's Coptic Church head Pope Tawadros II cancelled a meeting with US
Vice President Mike Pence in Cairo later this month in protest at Washington's
decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the church said (AFP Photo/
KHALED DESOUKI)

Cairo (AFP) - Egypt's Coptic Church head Pope Tawadros II cancelled a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence in Cairo later this month in protest at Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the church said Saturday.

US President Donald Trump's decision "did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people," the church said in a statement, adding it decided not to receive Pence when his visits Egypt.

"The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church declines to receive American Vice President Mike Pence," it said, adding it would pray for "wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East".

The decision comes a day after Egypt's top Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Al-Azhar, also declined to meet Pence.

Egyptian Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the country's 93 million people, and are the largest religious minority in the region.

Trump's move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked Palestinian protests, sporadic clashes and a call for a new intifada or uprising amid fears of new bloodshed in the region.


Coptic Pope Tawadros II

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Pope Francis embrace
 during his visit to the prestigious Sunni Muslim institution in Cairo on April 28, 
2017 (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Yemen's Saleh: the ex-president who clung to power

Yahoo – AFP, December 4, 2017

Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh addressing loyalists in Sanaa on
March 10, 2011 (AFP Photo/MOHAMMED HUWAIS)

Sanaa (AFP) - Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed on Monday, ruled the Arabian Peninsula country for more than three decades, remaining a key player long after his 2012 resignation.

Adept at navigating Yemen's complex politics, he survived civil war, rebellion in the north, an Al-Qaeda insurgency in the south and a June 2011 bomb attack on his palace that wounded him badly.

In 2014 he allied with his former enemies, Huthi Shiite rebels from Yemen's north, to seek revenge against those who forced him from power.

But the collapse of their alliance was the beginning of the end for the wily leader.

A stocky man with piercing eyes and a moustache, Saleh was for decades Yemen's most powerful man.

In 2015, a UN panel of experts accused him of corruption, saying he may have amassed up to $60 billion the country descended into poverty during his 33 years in power.

Hailing from the same Zaidi minority as the Huthis, Saleh joined the army aged 20 and took part in the 1962 coup against Yemen's Zaidi imamate.

The ensuing six-year civil war ended in victory for Egyptian-backed nationalists who in 1968 formed the Yemen Arab Republic, also known as North Yemen.

A few months earlier, an independent South Yemen had been formed following the British withdrawal. It would eventually become the Communist-ruled People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.

Reunification

Saleh showed his leadership skills at an early age and swiftly climbed North Yemen's military and political ladder.

Following the June 1978 assassination of president Ahmad al-Ghashmi, a constituent assembly elected Saleh -- by then a colonel -- president of North Yemen.

A picture from June 1, 2000 shows Ali Abdullah Saleh diving during free time 
at his private presidential club (AFP Photo)

He immediately surrounded himself with close aides, notably his brothers, appointing them to key military and security posts.

Saleh deftly steered the country towards reunification in 1990 and four years later crushed a southern secession bid.

He became Yemen's first directly elected president in 1999, winning more than 96 percent of the vote, but elections during his tenure were widely criticised and he was accused of stifling dissent.

Saleh became a US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, allowing drone strikes on Yemeni territory, the first of which in 2002 killed the group's Yemen chief, Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harithi.

Between 2004 and 2010, Saleh fought several wars against the Huthis, who had long complained of marginalisation.

In the late 2000s he also grappled with growing pro-independence demonstrations in the south.

But the first real challenge to his rule came with the eruption in 2011 of Arab Spring-inspired protests that brought thousands of people onto the streets.

Saleh clung to power amid a deadly crackdown on demonstrators demanding an end to his regime.

He left Yemen for Saudi Arabia in June 2011 to receive medical treatment after being burned in a bomb attack on his presidential compound, but returned less than four months later.

He eventually ceded power in February 2012 under a Gulf-brokered deal that granted him immunity from prosecution.

'Dancing on snakes'

Vice President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi took power after Saleh's resignation but struggled to assert his authority.

The ex-president remained behind the scenes, refusing to go into exile and remaining head of his General People's Congress party.

Ali Abdullah Saleh addressing parliament in Sanaa in
October 2001 (AFP Photo/KHALED FAZAA)

The Huthis' seizure of Sanaa in September 2014 would have been impossible without support from Saleh loyalists, analysts said.

An expert report to the UN Security Council alleged Saleh provided "direct support" to the Huthis through funding and the backing of elite forces still under his influence.

Hadi in February 2015 fled to the southern city of Aden after escaping house arrest in Sanaa, then to Saudi Arabia as the rebels advanced south.

Yassin Makkawi, an adviser to Hadi, in 2015 described the ex-president as a "tyrant", saying "the Huthis are puppets in the hands of Saleh".

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which feared the Huthis would help its arch-rival Iran spread its influence in Yemen, launched air strikes and sent ground troops to Yemen in support of Hadi.

That escalation has since killed more than 8,750 people and dragged Yemen towards what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The intervention helped loyalists win back control of large parts of the south but they were unable to dislodge the Huthis from Sanaa and other key strongholds.

Saleh was reported to have remained in the capital and boasted: "I will never leave Sanaa."

But in mid-2017, his alliance with the Huthis began to collapse amid simmering resentment over money, power-sharing and suspected backdoor dealings.

When Saleh reached out to the Saudi-led coalition last week, the Huthis accused him of "great treason" and staging a "coup" against "an alliance he never believed in".

A smart tactician who had portrayed himself as a "saviour" after his resignation, Saleh once compared ruling Yemen to "dancing on the heads of snakes".

But Saleh's gamble in quitting his alliance with the Huthis proved to be a fatal step.

As gun battles rocked the capital on Monday, the Huthis announced that Saleh had been killed, and a video supplied to AFP by the rebels showed what appeared to be his corpse.

Hours later, his party confirmed the news.

At the age of 75, the man who had shaped much of Yemen's post-independence history was dead.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Mnangagwa pledges new era as Zimbabwe president

Yahoo – AFP, Reagan MASHAVAVE, November 24, 2017

Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as president of Zimbabwe less than three weeks
after being sacked by ousted leader Robert Mugabe (AFP Photo/MUJAHID SAFODIEN)

Harare (AFP) - Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed sweeping change at his swearing in on Friday, seeking to reassure foreign investors and pledging to fight poverty and corruption after Robert Mugabe's shock resignation.

In his inaugural address, Mnangagwa set out a programme of dramatic change that promised a stark reversal of many of Mugabe's signature policies.

He pledged that his government would compensate white farmers whose land was seized by Mugabe, protect international investments in the country, and re-engage with foreign powers.

Elections scheduled for 2018 would go ahead as planned, he said.

"I humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones," he said at the ceremony in the 60,000-seat national stadium in Harare, which was packed to capacity.

"We must work together -- you, me, all of us who make this nation.

"I stand here today, to say that our country is ready for a sturdy re-engagement programme with all the nations of the world," he said.

After reciting the oath of office, the 75-year-old leader was given a ceremonial chain and sash of office flanked by his wife Auxilia, receiving salutes and pledges of allegiance from the country's military and security chiefs.

Military aircraft and helicopters then staged a fly-past.

Mnangagwa also used his speech to pay tribute to Mugabe, describing him as one of the "founding fathers of our nation".


Mnangagwa is a political veteran who has served in multiple government
positions since independence in 1980 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

'Mugabe's legacy of ruin'

"We are excited and expecting a lot from Mnangagwa. We have been under a dictatorship for a very long time," said 23-year-old Sharon Mauyakufa.

The 93-year-old former president, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 37 years, was ousted after the military intervened over his sacking of Mnangagwa as vice president on November 6.

Two days later, Mnangagwa fled the country, only returning on Wednesday when he said Zimbabwe was entering an era of "full democracy".

But critics have warned Mnangagwa -- whose ruthlessness won him the nickname "The Crocodile" and who has been accused of overseeing violence and ethnic massacres -- could prove just as authoritarian as his mentor.

Mnangagwa was until recently one of
Mugabe's closest allies (AFP Photo/
Vincent LEFAI)
Friday's 21-gun salute marked Mnangagwa's transformation from a sacked enemy of the state to president of a nation of 16 million people.

"We thank you, our soldier," read one banner at the stadium.

"The people have spoken," said another.

"Mnangagwa came at the right time when the economy was showing signs of going back to 2008 when... people were starving," said Nozithelo Mhlanga, a 27-year-old accountant.

"Mugabe has left no legacy at all except that of ruin, poverty and corruption."

Mugabe in frail health

Mugabe, who is in increasingly frail health, had been positioning his wife Grace as his successor but the army chiefs stepped in to halt the plan.

Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, seen as a Grace supporter, was loudly booed at the swearing in.

Mugabe did not attend.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change, received rapturous applause as he arrived at the packed stadium.

In Mugabe's native home of Kutama, about 55 miles (90 kilometres) west of Harare, reaction to Mnangagwa's inauguration was subdued as residents expressed sorrow over Mugabe's ouster.

"We are so grateful for what he has done, the way he has looked after us until today. We hope things will continue just as good," said Tobias Sowero, 40, sitting in front of a shop.

Marjorie Masuwa, a 54-year-old shopkeeper, told AFP she feared for the future under Mnangagwa.

"When I heard that (Mugabe) had stepped down, I didn't get emotional, but allow me to say that he was loving. I just wish the one who is replacing him is the same," she said.

On Thursday, Mnangagwa promised the Mugabes "maximum security and welfare" in talks.

Many in Zimbabwe hope Mnangagwa will push through reforms to bring in 
investment (AFP Photo/MARCO LONGARI)


'Africa's Gandhi'

Also at the ceremony were Zambian President Edgar Lungu, Botswana's President Ian Khama and Zambian independence leader Kenneth Kaunda -- known as "Africa's Gandhi" -- all of whom were cheered.

Jacob Zuma, president of regional heavyweight South Africa, did not attend as he was hosting a visit by Angola's new head of state.

"We wish to emphasise the need for the maintenance of peace and stability," Zuma said in a statement.

Robert Besseling, of the London-based EXX Africa risk consultancy, wrote in a research note that ensuring economic stability would be paramount.

"Mnangagwa's administration will also reach out to foreign banks to obtain fresh financial support facilities," he wrote.

Many hope Mnangagwa will push through investor-friendly reforms to revive Zimbabwe's once-promising economy.

Unemployment is over 90 percent, and in his first speech after being announced as the next president he promised "jobs, jobs, jobs!"

Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, exercising almost total authority to crush any sign of dissent. His reign was characterised by brutality, rigged elections and international isolation.

Until his rule ended Tuesday with a resignation letter read out in parliament where MPs had gathered to impeach him, he was the world's oldest head of state.

Mugabe was last seen in public on Friday. Neither he nor his wife Grace has been seen since.

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